Idaho

What does it take to be the perfect Winter Olympics host? This Idaho city has got it

Watch Breezy Johnson complete a super-G run at Sun Valley

U.S. skier Breezy Johnson of Idaho competed in the 2016 U.S. alpine championships at Sun Valley Resort. This is the last part of one of her super-G runs in the event.
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U.S. skier Breezy Johnson of Idaho competed in the 2016 U.S. alpine championships at Sun Valley Resort. This is the last part of one of her super-G runs in the event.

The closest the Olympic Games have come to Idaho was in 2002, when the Winter Games came to Salt Lake City. But if a recent Washington Post report has any sway, two Idaho cities could make the short list — and one is nearly perfect.

According to the Post, 2018 Winter Olympics host Pyeongchang, South Korea, has touted itself as the perfect altitude for “human biorhythm” at an average 700 meters elevation. Its slogan is even “Happy 700.” So, keeping in mind that measurement, Post reporters set out to find a comparable U.S. city, taking into consideration topography (mountains, water, etc. that make for a good Winter Olympics environment) and population (Pyeongchang’s is 43,000) as well.

Turns out, Idaho fits that criteria pretty well. The report’s authors narrowed all areas of the U.S. down to just four locations: two in California, which were quickly disqualified for their warm temperatures, and two in Idaho. The Treasure Valley — Caldwell in particular — was crowned runner-up. The winner? Coeur d’Alene.

“Congrats, Coeur d’Alene!” the article reads. “Judging by elevation, population and topography — and the temperature tiebreaker — you are as close to ‘Happy 700’ as we can get.”

Apparently, Coeur d’Alene’s forecast for opening day of the Olympics perfectly matches that of Pyeongchang’s, giving it an edge over the Canyon County locale. The article’s authors also point out Lake Coeur d’Alene, the North Idaho town’s plentiful cross-country ski trails and nearby Silver Mountain ski resort as potential draws.

Coeur d’Alene also boasts an existing tie to the Winter Games: Snowboarding gold medalist Sage Kotsenburg hails from the area.

In four years, the Winter Olympics head to Beijing. The bid process has already begun for the 2026 Games, with former host cities Salt Lake City and Lake Placid, New York, vying for the honor. Who knows? Maybe 2030 will see Idaho included.

Nicole Blanchard: 208-377-6410, @NMBlanchard

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